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St. John's surge late last season doesn't impress Big East coaches

St. John's head coach Mike Anderson reacts against

St. John's head coach Mike Anderson reacts against Creighton during a men's basketball game at Carnesecca Arena on March 1. Credit: Steven Ryan

The last impressions of the St. John’s men’s basketball team last season were positive ones. After struggling to learn new coach Mike Anderson’s systems, the Red Storm was finally catching on. It won three of its last four and led seventh-ranked Creighton in a Big East quarterfinal when the season was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Big East coaches don’t see St. John’s (17-15) picking up where it left off. The Storm was picked ninth of 11 in the preseason poll of Big East coaches released Wednesday before the conference’s virtual media day. Only DePaul and Georgetown were behind it. No St. John’s player was picked to be on the all-conference teams.

"Everyone has an opinion, but we've been working to get each other better," Rasheem Dunn said. "We’re not into polls or politics. It just makes us go hard every day."

The Storm has a core of returning players in Dunn and Julian Champagnie – who were all-conference freshman picks last season – and Greg Williams Jr., Marcellus Earlington and Josh Roberts. Significant additions include guard John McGriff, who is returning from shoulder surgery, George Washington grad transfer and forward Arnaldo Toro and touted freshman guard Posh Alexander.

Coach Mike Anderson said the team has dealt with some minor early season injuries and that only Williams has competed in every practice. But he said his offseason message has been "let’s pick up where we left off" and feels good about what he’s seen.

St. John’s isn’t likely to play any games at the Garden until at least the second semester and Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said whether fans will be permitted at Carnesecca Arena will be up to state and local health officials.

The Storm is scheduled to open on Nov. 25, though the opponent for that date still is being determined and will play Boston College at Mohegan Sun and away at Texas Tech and then will take on the first of four Big East games before Christmas.

It’s first conference game will be Dec. 11 at UConn, which returns to the Big East this season. It also plays on the road at Butler and will host Creighton and Georgetown.

Latest 2020-21 St. John's men's basketball schedule

Wed. Nov. 25 TBD Carnesecca Arena - Lapchick Tournament

Thurs. Nov. 26: LASALLE at Carnesecca Arena - Lapchick Tournament

Wed. Nov. 30: vs. Boston College at Mohegan Sun Arena

Thurs. Dec. 3: at Texas Tech

Sun. Dec. 6: SACRED HEART at Carnesecca Arena

Tues. Dec. 8: FORDHAM at Carnesecca Arena

Fri. Dec. 11: at Connecticut

Mon. Dec. 14: at Butler

Thurs. Dec. 17: CREIGHTON at Carnesecca Arena

Thurs. Dec. 20: GEORGETOWN at Carnesecca Arena

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